Saturday, February 03, 2007

Avenida Florida (Ken)

It is another hot day in the world´s 8th largest city. The second day in a row that the mercury has boldly invaded the upper reaches of the thermometer. And I wandered into the thick of it to exerience the city´s pedestrian shopping mall in the heart of El Centro. Epicenter for this pedestrian-only shopping area is the intersection of Calle Lavalle and Calle Florida. These street,
now lined with pavers, are foridden to vehicles and are storefront-to-storefront with weekend shoppers.
THIS is where tourists will find those Argentina Tango refrigerator magnets and Porteños will find their Boca and River team jersies.

The aggressive sales staff from the casas de cuero accost every fannypack-strapped, ballcap-lidded, New Balance-with-socks- wearing middle aged man who happens by to purchase his very own custom-made leather jacket.

Hawkers from the casas de cambio (exchange houses) also see this as fertile feeding grounds for uninformed USAmericans with dollars that need to be changed into pesos (for a higher-than-average fee). I walk past them to the ATM and withdraw pesos directly from my USA account with no fee at all.
The problem I have with buying things here is that there is no self serve. To buy anything, you have to get a salesperson to get it for you. Once you engage the sales staff, you have an unspoken committment to complete the sale. As a result, I don´t buy much. If I could hold things in my hand--walk around with them a bit, get used to the idea of owning them--I would probably buy more things. But, most of the time, I just don´t feel like getting involved speaking the Spanish, asking the price, blah, blah, blah. These Porteños don´t understand USAmerican buying habits and the WalMart concept.


I did get my shoes shined, though. Nice job. Five pesos.


There are lots of people begging here. Tired and sad looking mothers with dirty-faced babies in their arms asking for modedas, then there are limbless and physically challenged people with signs explaining their plight, and others who seem well and able, but ask for change none-the-less. Sometimes, the little kids set up shop with mini accordians and howl away in mimiced tango-like song.


And it IS hot. It is after 4:00 and still at 97F. With no air conditioning, there is only so much these ceiling fans can do. We have been told that the hottest of the summer is over by mid February. We can only hope that is true.


Chas said...

Starts cooling off by March? That's what I'M countin' on.

Jos said...

Sheesh! I suppose I am in for a hot one when I arrive next Monday. It is freezing cold in New York now, so I can really use the change.

Your shoes look nice:)